Title: Using Uniquely Designed Hindi Slates to Improve Literacy Skills in EKAL Students

Presenter: Vindhya T. Adapa, Clarksville, Maryland. Phone: 410-531-2933 (Home)

Affiliation: New EKAL Volunteer seeking to help improve tribal educational standards in India

Presently a Junior Finance and Marketing student at the Robert H. Smith School of Business in the University of Maryland College Park.


Abstract


Introduction

Upon approaching Ekal Vidyalaya with the desire to perform a service project in India, I was directed under Professor Venkat Rao Mulpuri to help design a new and improved method of teaching Hindi to the Ekal students in India. These slates are uniquely designed with the purpose of enhancing the writing motor skills in children.

Project Details

Professor Mulpuri felt there was a strong need to improve upon the learning materials the children were using and help them maintain more fluidity and sophistication in their writing skills. Using previous concepts and children’s writing books; Dr. Mulpuri provided the basic template. In turn, I gave him my input and opinions on the design, created the paper copies of the slates, got them painted by a professional, and instituted them in four different schools. In each set there were two slates, one with Hindi bubble letters using arrows and dots to indicate where to begin each letter and in which direction to move the chalk (SLATE A). The second slate consisted of drawings of various lines, shapes, animals, and kid-friendly pictures which also used arrows and dots (SLATE B). The second slate was mainly created to keep the children engaged and interested in the project while at the same time improving their straight lines, curves, circles, and other necessary shapes needed for writing Hindi. While in India in the summer of 2009, I visited the town of Manendragarh, located in Chattisgarh, India. I visited four different villages in the area and noted down several observations and ideas for improving the education and operations in Ekal schools. Further, I gave a slate set to each school and administered a questionnaire in order to gauge the teachers’ and students’ opinions on the benefits and drawbacks of the slates.

 Conclusion

The main benefit from this project applies to the older students who already have some basic knowledge of writing and reading. When they practiced with SLATE A, within a short time their writing order and format improved as they understood their mistakes and used the slates to correct them. I noticed that while they knew how to write, they were writing some letters in an incorrect style and order. Thus, SLATE A helped these advanced students practice their legibility and proper format. However, while SLATE B was useful with the basic students, several of them were still unable to understand the meaning of the dots and arrows. Thus, it can be concluded that SLATE A was high above their level of understanding, which we expected anyway. Further, even SLATE B might be a little advanced for the basic students. Perhaps we should design a simpler version of the slates to appeal to the students in backwards areas and to explain to the teacher more easily, since in these areas the concept was completely revolutionary and perhaps confusing for them to grasp. Most of the teachers and students believed the slates were aesthetically well designed and pleasing to work with. Further, since Ekal teachers already use slates to teach Hindi, this system of teaching fits into their natural operations. Overall, the project was successful from what I have noticed in achieving its core purposes. Upon reviewing the feedback of the teachers and students I can reach a more definitive conclusion and proposal for improvement or change.

 

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